Pen and Moon

from the writing nook of Theresa Jarosz Alberti

Divorce Lesson #2

(In case you missed it, you can read Divorce Lesson #1 here.)

It’s been almost 5 weeks now since the D-word landed like a hawk on my shoulder, digging claws in tight to let me know it’s not going away, the heavy weight a constant reminder. In this short but life-changing span of time, I’ve already been passing through phases– complete physical and emotional devastation that left me barely functioning, denial and trying to be super-pleasing to try and make him change his mind, anger, learning to ask for what I want and need (as I figure that out), and coming to a place where I am still raw and feeling tons of feelings, but I can have a few good hours and enjoy something. I can even have a whole good day, which is a miracle and a relief. That good day may be followed by a devastating plunge, but I know I’m on a rollercoaster right now, rapid-pace and full of highs and lows.

I’m also a sponge right now– talking to lots of people, reading lots of things, soaking in knowledge and insight to help me navigate through all this, but also to help me process my feelings and find the parts of myself that I lost or let atrophy over the years. For me, this is not just a divorce but a soul-quest… if I’m going to have to go through this, then I want to use it to make myself happier, more fulfilled, to find the true authentic me that I’ve been too afraid to embrace for so long.

Some people laughingly call this type of thing AFGO– Another F#%*@ Growth Opportunity, and it really is. I’ve had a ton of Miracle Grow dumped on me and my life has turned into one of those stop-motion flower-blooming videos. Amidst all the pain, it’s exciting and scary. I just can’t keep it all to myself, so if you’re willing to keep reading, here I go again…

 

Divorce Lesson #2: Love Is All Around

 

If you’re old like me, this title may bring you back to the Mary Tyler Moore Show: “Love is all around, no need to fake it…”   There’s also the more recent song from the movie Love Actually: “Love is all around me, and so the feeling grows.” For the purposes of this blog, either one works. (Sorry for the ear-worms.)

As my heart has broken, as I grieve the horrible loss of my dreams about my marriage, my future, the life I wanted to have with my husband, it would be easy (and understandable) to sink completely into the darkness and be unable to move. Somehow, even as I sank down into it, I was able to catch glimmers of something else, a sparkly, shiny new gift being held out to me: the gift of Love and Support that truly is all around me.

 

Love, Part 1

 

In the first few devastating days, I knew I needed some support to just survive. I called one friend (we sweetly claim each other as sisters) who listened, suggested and loved. I told another, newer friend and received her dear caring and attention. I wrote to a private online support group who circled me in a strong web of concern and love, giving me empathy, virtual hugs and even helped me to start re-envisioning my process and my life. Some little voice inside me knew I needed all of this, right from the start, and was either strong or desperate enough (maybe both) to ask for it. This was a small circle—which included my dear daughter, who lives with us and could see what was going on and comforted me many times a day. In the first few weeks, we weren’t sharing the news with the world yet. The circle stayed small, but it was vital to me.

Then came our Facebook announcement, since it was becoming more complicated to not tell people, even though this was a painful step. We preceded this with a weekend of running around and telling people who we knew needed to hear this in person. Our public announcement was crafted by both of us, a positive message about our circumstances and our intentions to do this in a loving, healing way. It was one version of our truth, and while some found it emotionally confusing, it was what we needed to say at the time. Bob and I sat side-by-side with our laptops, pasting the same message and photos into our status bar, hitting send at the same time. The flood of support started within moments—warm, caring, affirming, loving waves washing over us, hour after hour. For me, this opened out into FB messages, emails, texts, calls and in-person hugs. I let it all wash over me.

 

Love, Part 2

 

I also needed to share another truth—my own personal emotional experience. We’d left this out of our announcement, but I’d been sharing a bit of this with people face-to-face and I found that healing. I decided to start blogging about it with last week’s Divorce Lesson #1— I needed to share my own story and had a deep desire to share the lessons I was learning in the process.

Sharing my story cleared up any emotional ambiguity left over from our announcement. It was more of a behind-the-scenes view, and again, the floodgates opened with even more support, empathy, stories of “I’ve been there and survived,” and love-love-love-love-love.

Love.

This has been the awe-some, mind-blowing, affirming silver lining in this dark cloud. As my heart splits open to lose one kind of love, I am suddenly and unexpectedly awash in another kind —the love of a whole world of people who care and are reaching out. To me. Love that has been around me, unseen by me, unacknowledged.

I’ve spent a lifetime shutdown from this kind of love. I grew up twisted in on myself, contorting myself to be someone that everybody would approve of. I’d taken messages coming at me from people in my world to mean I wasn’t loveable, I needed to change, maybe if I were perfect, then someone would love me. I wore a façade.

Of course I haven’t totally been closed off—I’ve had love, I have many good and loving relationships, but my orientation to the world was to hide who I really am and try to be someone more acceptable, unless I felt completely safe.

What’s funny is that it’s so ironic– I don’t feel safe at all right now, and yet the tables have been not just turned but tossed out the window. What have I got to lose? And this: maybe I’ll be loved just for who I really am, deep down inside? And finally: I love myself enough now to take a risk and ask.

 

Love, Part 3

 

Last Tuesday ended up being a really tough one for me. I’d been having a good day, then Bob came home and we had a unexpected difficult talk which left me sobbing and broken, unable to stop crying. It had been several days since I’d wept with such ferocity, and I been thinking I was done with that really hard part. I felt like I’d been climbing out of a deep canyon, making progress, and then my foot slipped and I was back to the bottom again. Bob left after a while, had someone he needed to be, and I was left alone with my howling inner demons.

I called my sister-friend, and she helped me so much, talked me through many things, listened. And when I hung up the phone, I found myself back in the pit. So alone and hopeless. I call it one of my Dark Nights of the Soul. The image that kept coming to me was George Bailey weeping on the bridge, thinking he’s worth more dead than alive, so broken down, ready to jump. I wasn’t ready to jump… but death seemed like it wouldn’t be unwelcome, if it happened to happen.

That’s when this little voice inside nudged me. Reminded me about the love all around me. I desperately needed that. And I somehow knew that it was there, just for the asking. So I asked:

Any good thoughts you can send my way, even virtually, would be so much appreciated. I’m having a pretty rough night, can’t talk about it now. Might not be able to respond… sigh. Thanks.

It was a simple plea. 34 words put out on Facebook and some online groups. And yet it yielded immediate and powerful results. I sat crying in front of my computer as you—so many of you—offered me love and comfort from your very own hearts. Comments and texts and messages and emails and offers and uncountable good thoughts poured in, one after another. It was such a healing balm. It didn’t take away my pain, but it was hands reaching out to pull me up. It got me through the night.

Wonderful Life 4

Even as I go through hard times, I am looking up to see a brilliant sun shining down. There’s so much love. Even just opening up to see the strangers who briefly enter my life and make eye contact and give a smile, the bank clerk who connects, the guy who says ‘darlin’ as he holds open the door, the friendly barista. It’s all good.

Yes, this damn divorce is life-changing. But perhaps I can take a moment and recognize that these lessons I’m learning are even more profoundly life-changing. Love, there is so much love, if you open to it, choose to see it, learn to ask for it. It’s been waiting for me to wake up, for each of us to see it.

Thank you, everyone, from my grateful heart.

 

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One of my favorite songs about Love:

10 Comments

  1. The most amazing thing is how much other women want to reach out and give you a hug or a hand to hold. Even though we do not know each other too well, I felt your pain because all women understand each other and feel the need to nurture. All I can tell you is this: I felt the message that was sent seemed a little forced, about how you were going to have a “nice” divorce. I sensed that you were trying very hard to please him. And that you needed to know that it was going to be a long journey. They say one month for each year of marriage. I will tell you as much as my situation hurt me to the very core of my being, I can look back now and say “thank you, Spirit, for showing me the way to self respect and emotional freedom.” There came a time when I had gotten past all the garbage when one day I was getting dressed and looked at myself in the mirror and realized I could do whatever I wanted with my life. My choice was to stay and raise my sons. But had I made a different decision I could have taken off and moved to Europe or went on a world cruise. I didn’t have to answer to anybody anymore. I also realized that his cheating on me and separating from me was due to his feelings of inadequacy and not my faults, as he tried to make it seem. Also in the book I recommended she said there could be a time when the other person wants to reconcile, they realize they made a mistake but chances are by that point you will be past wanting to reconcile and find yourself saying no. You have the gift of creativity and the ability to write. You are using those gifts to write down to your very soul. Remember you have every right to feel angry, hurt, abandoned and released by the other person. Your friends are there for you. You will pick up those pieces of yourself and figure out where they fit. You just have to get to that point where the glue dries and patches up the broken, shattered pieces and then y ou can dust yourself off and move on.

  2. Oh, Theresa, your writing made me weep. This is a sucky time, but you are rich in love, my friend. And good for you for reaching out and asking for what you need. As Clarence the angel says, “No [woman] is a failure who has FRIENDS.”

    xx Jen

  3. I admire you so much right now Theresa. I don’t know you well but would say I love you all the same. I know admiration is probably not the most helpful thing right now but there it is. You will come out so much stronger than you are now at the other side of this. And you are already strong. Peace to you in this journey and know that I am out here, rooting for you.

  4. I think divorce is hard, regardless of how civil everyone is, because it is change, and change is hard. I think if you were “okay” all the time, that would be a sign that you were really NOT okay.

    I’m also a big advocate of having a problem, and then reading everything I can find to help me figure out how to best proceed. In fact, one of my early ridiculous divorce stories was the day that I went to Barnes and Noble to exchange my “how to save your marriage” book for a “how to get divorced” book, and the cashier gave me a hard time about it. I remember thinking, “Honey–look at the books I’m exchanging. Do I need your attitude right now?”

    Anyway, one book I bought later was called Crazy Time, and it talked about all of the ridiculousness people go through during a divorce from challenges to how different people act out (and I did my fair share of acting out). Anyway, here’s a link if you’re interested in checking it out: http://www.amazon.com/Crazy-Time-Surviving-Divorce-Building/dp/0060923091

    I wish you strength during your continuing discovery process.

    –Brenda

    • Thanks, Brenda. I’ll check that one out. It’s so good to hear about your experiences. I am gaining new understanding in my life about something I thought I’d never need to know about.

  5. I’m a new-ish person to the Maud List, but just have to write to say directly what an inspiring woman and cool cat you are. You are creating gorgeous art out of your painful, un-asked-for crisis and expressing a self-awareness and connection to the universe that all of us can only aspire to achieve. Always sending good thoughts and wishes to you, knowing that the love that you are discovering all around you will only increase!

    • Thank you so much, Mary! That is such helpful and meaningful feedback for me to hear. Welcome to the Maud List… I look forward to getting to know you better over there!

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